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THE GENTILE TIMES OF LUKE 21:24

Carl Olof Jonsson, Gteborg, Sweden, 1997 (slightly revised in 2004)

They will fall by the sword and will be taken


as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will
be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times
of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24,
NIV.

A. THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT OF LUKE 21:24


IN TRYING TO understand the phrase times of the Gentiles, or appointed times of the
nations (NW) at Luke 21:24, it is important to consider the context of this prophecy.
Does the context really indicate that Jerusalem in this text is not just a reference to the
city of Jerusalem but stands for the kingdom of the dynasty of Davidic rulers, so that
the trampling on Jerusalem primarily relates, not to the literal city of Jerusalem but to
Gods kingdom, as functioning through Davids house? (1)
The immediate context of Luke 21:24 gives no support to this view. The terms used in
the context, such as Jerusalem and gentiles (or nations), are clearly meant to be
understood literally. For example, when it is predicted at verse 20 that Jerusalem will
be surrounded by encamped armies, were these armies in some way to surround, not
just the literal city of Jerusalem, but the kingdom of the dynasty of Davidic rulers? As
Jesus Christ was the last and eternal ruler of the dynasty of King David, who (as shown in
the previous chapter) began his universal rule from heavenly Jerusalem at his
resurrection and exaltation, how could the beleaguering of the earthly city of Jerusalem
constitute any threat against the kingdom of the dynasty of King David?
Further, as the siege of Jerusalem would forewarn the disciples that the desolating
of her has drawn near, telling them to withdraw from Jerusalem and not enter into
her (verse 21), would this siege in reality signify that the desolating of the kingdom of
the dynasty of King David had drawn near, telling the disciples to withdraw from Gods
kingdom, as functioning through Davids house? Obviously, a consistent application of
the Watch Tower Societys understanding of the term Jerusalem in this passage leads to
absurd consequences.
The Jerusalem of Luke 21:20-21 evidently means the literal city of Jerusalem. As
predicted, this city was surrounded by encamped armies, namely, by the Roman armies
under the Syrian legate Cestius Gallus in 66 C.E. And when verse 24 goes on to foretell
that Jerusalem would be trampled on by the nations, this could scarcely be any other
than the Jerusalem that would be surrounded by encamped armies, namely, the literal city
of Jerusalem. It could not have been the the kingdom of the dynasty of Davidic rulers
that was besieged and finally desolated by the Roman armies under Titus in 70 C.E.

The Watch Tower Society agrees that the term nations or Gentiles was used by the
Bible writers to refer specifically to the non-Jewish nations. (2) Therefore, when it is
stated in Luke 21:24 that the Jews would fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive
into all the nations (thn) (NW), and that Jerusalem would be trampled on by the
nations (thn) (NW), these nations could not mean other than literal non-Jewish
nations.
The context of Luke 21:24, then, clearly demands a literal Jerusalem surrounded by
literal armies (verse 20) in a literal Judea (verse 21), trampled on and desolated by literal
non-Jewish nations (verse 24). The claim that Jerusalem in this passage stands for Gods
kingdom, as functioning through Davids house finds no support whatever in the
immediate context.
B. THE EXPLANATORY FEATURES OF LUKE 21:20-24
The phrase times of the Gentiles occurs in the lengthy prophecy of Jesus known as the
Olivet discourse. This discourse is recorded by all the three Synoptics (Matthew 24, Mark
13, and Luke 21). However, some formulations used by Luke in the prophecy of the
desolation of Jerusalem at 21:20-24 are peculiar to his version of the speech. One of them
is the statement in verse 20 that Jerusalem would be surrounded by encamped armies.
Another is the phrase times of the Gentiles in verse 24.
The historical setting of the discourse was Jesus public teaching in or close to the
temple precinct during the last days of his earthly ministry. One of these days certain
ones were speaking concerning the temple (hiern), how it was adorned with fine stones
and dedicated things. (Luke 21:5, NW) On hearing this, Jesus stated:
As for these things that you are beholding, the days will come in which not a stone upon a
stone will be left here and not be thrown down. Luke 21:6, NW.

According to this statement the impressive temple structure with its central sanctuary
was to be utterly ruined. In reaction to this shocking prediction, some of Jesus disciples
later, when they had retreated to the Mount of Olives (compare Mark 13:3), approached
him privately, asking:
Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are
destined to occur? Luke 21:7, NW.

In Lukes version of the speech, the two questions of the disciples both pertained to the
desolation of the temple. They wanted to know (1) when this destruction would take
place, and (2) what kind of sign they were to look for to know that this event was close at
hand.
Jesus first, in Luke 21:8-19, foretold a number of events that would precede the final
destruction, things that must occur first (verse 9) and which might be mistaken for
signs of the nearness of the foretold destruction.
Then, in verse 20, Jesus directly pointed to the sign that would tell the disciples that the
catastrophe was near. According to Lukes version of the discourse, Jesus now extended
the area of the coming destruction to include, not only the temple, but the whole city of
Jerusalem:

When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is
near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst
of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city. Luke 21:20, NIV.

Instead of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, however, the parallel accounts of


Matthew and Mark both speak of the abomination of desolation (bdlygma ts
rmses) standing where it should not be or in the holy place:
But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the
reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Mark 13:14,
NASB.
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through
Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who
are in Judea flee to the mountains. Matthew 24:15-16, NASB.

As stated by Jesus at Matthew 24:15, this abomination of desolation had been


spoken of through Daniel the prophet. Obviously because of the obscurity of this phrase
Jesus added, let the reader [of Daniel] understand. Luke, however, who primarily wrote
for a non-Jewish public, gives an explanation of the phrase. This is evidently the reason
why he leaves out the words, let the reader understand. His explanation was plain
enough. But from where did he get it?
Many modern New Testament scholars claim that Luke wrote his gospel several years
after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., and that his reformulation of
Jesus prediction reflects his attempts at conforming it to the historical reality. (3)
However, a number of well-known scholars, who have thoroughly examined the
special vocabulary used by Luke, find this theory problematic. A much simplier
explanation is that Luke, in addition to the material found in Mattthew 24 and Mark 13,
also used other sources available to him. (4) It should be recalled that Luke introduces his
gospel by explaining that he had traced all things from the start with accuracy, to write
them in logical order. (Luke 1:3, NW) As none of the Synoptic writers were present
themselves during Jesus discourse, they all, directly or indirectly, were dependent on
accounts given by the disciples who had been present as listeners (Mark. 13:3). The
explanatory language of Luke, then, could very well reach back to Jesus himself via one
or more of the disciples present and thus reflect Jesus own words, although preserved
only by Luke. (5)
Another circumstance that to a great extent explains the vocabulary used by Luke is the
relation of the Olivet discourse to the Old Testament, and especially to the prophecies of
Daniel. Jesus in his prophecy not only quoted directly from Daniel when he spoke of the
abomination of desolation (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11), the great tribulation (Dan.
12:1), and the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13-14), but his
discourse also contains a number of allusions to other passages in Daniel. (6)
Further, as the Gospels are written in Greek, the citations from and allusions to the
book of Daniel and other parts of the Old Testament are often based on the Greek
Septuagint (LXX) version of the Old Testament. This is also true of some of the phrases
and terms peculiar to Luke at Luke 21:20-24.
The dependence of Luke on the Septuagint in this section was examined back in 1947
by Professor Charles H. Dodd. In a careful study of the two passages in Luke that deal
with the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:42-44 and 21:20-24), he states:

The fact is that the whole significant vocabulary of both Lucan passages belongs to the
Septuagint, and is for the most part characteristic of the prophetical books. ...
It appears, then, that not only are the two Lucan oracles composed entirely from the
language of the Old Testament, but the conception of the coming disaster which the author
has in mind is a generalized picture of the fall of Jerusalem as imaginatively presented by the
prophets. So far as any historical event has coloured the picture, it is not Tituss capture of
Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but Nebuchadrezzars capture in 586 B.C. There is no single trait of the
forecast which cannot be documented directly out of the Old Testament. (7)

Although some of the parallels from the LXX given by Dodd may as well have been
translated directly from the Hebrew text, the fact remains that the vocabulary of Luke
21:20-24 mainly is based on the Old Testament, and in particular on the book of Daniel.
Thus, when the abomination of desolation ... standing in the holy place is replaced by
the expression Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, it may be demonstrated that
Luke is not freely rephrasing it after his own mind. As will immediately be shown, his
explanation, whether it reaches back to Jesus himself or not, seems clearly to be based on
the same passage in Daniel from which Jesus quoted, namely, Daniel 9:26-27.
C. THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AT DANIEL 9:26-27
In speaking of the abomination of desolation, Jesus, as we saw, referred his listeners to
the prophecy of Daniel and added, Let the reader understand. Therefore, when the
disciples later on pondered over Jesus prediction, a natural thing for them to do would be
to take a closer look at the relevant passage in Daniel to see what the context indicated as
to the meaning of the phrase.
There are three passages in the Greek LXX version of the book of Daniel containing
the phrase bdlygma ts rmses (abomination of desolation), namely, Daniel 9:27;
11:31 and 12:11. Daniel 8:13 is also referred to sometimes, but instead of the
abomination of desolation that text speaks of the sin (Greek, hamarta; the Hebrew
text has pesha, transgression) of desolation. However, that text seems to be a clear
parallel of Daniel 11:31 and 12:11, both of which do use the phrase bdlygma ts
rmses. Most expositors today (except for most Adventist scholars) agree that Daniel
8:13; 11:31, and 12:11 all refer to the desecration of the Jewish temple by the Syrian king
Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who in the autumn of 167 B.C.E. put an end to the Jewish
temple rituals and later, on December 6 that year, had an illicit altar (called the
abomination of desolation in the book of 1 Maccabees) built upon the altar of burnt
offering. (8)
Because some expressions similar to those found in Daniel 8:13 and 11:31 also occur
in Daniel 9:26-27, many modern scholars believe that this passage, too, deals with the
time and acts of Antiochus IV. But this application creates problems. For example, verse
26 of Daniel 9 predicts that the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city
and the sanctuary. This did not happen at the time of Antiochus IV. (9) But it closely
corresponds to Jesus prediction of the destruction of the temple. His disciples, therefore,
undoubtedly recognized that this was the passage Jesus first of all had in mind. In fact,
after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 C.E., Jews and Christians
alike saw in that event the fulfilment of the destruction predicted at Daniel 9:26-27. (10)

Thus, when Jesus referred to the abomination of desolation, spoken of through Daniel
the prophet, he was clearly referring to the prediction at Daniel 9:26-27. (11) Albert
Barnes, in his careful examination of Daniel 9:27, concludes:
There can be no reasonable doubt that the Saviour refers to this passage in Daniel (see
Notes on Matt. xxiv. 15) or that events occurred in the attack on Jerusalem and the temple
that would fully correspond with the language used here. (12)

It seems reasonable to conclude that the interpretation of the abomination of


desolation as armies that would surround and desolate Jerusalem is based upon Daniel
9:26-27. As noted above, this text not only speaks of the abomination of desolations
(LXX), but also predicts that the people (troups, NRSV) of a coming prince will
destroy the city and the temple. This destruction of Jerusalem by foreign armies, of
course, had to be preceded by their appearance outside the city walls. Lukes version of
Jesus prophecy in the light of Daniel 9:26-27, therefore, is quite logical:
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is
near. Luke 21:20, NIV.

D. THE TRAMPLING DOWN OF JERUSALEM


The statement that Jerusalem will be trampled on [ASV: trampled down] by the
nations (Luke 21:24, NW) is another phrase unique to Luke. Like his other distinctive
formulations in this section, this one, too, is taken from the Old Testament. The picture of
Jerusalem or the sanctuary being trodden down by foreigners is found at Isaiah 63:18,
Lamentations 1:15, Daniel 8:13, and Zechariah 12:3 (LXX). What did this trampling on
Jerusalem and/or the sanctuary imply?
D-1: The Greek verb pat, trample
The word trample translates the Greek verb pat. As explained by Dr. Gnther Ebel in
Colin Browns The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, this verb
denotes a stepping movement of the feet. When used intransitively, he says, the verb
may simply mean to go or to walk. But when used transitively (as is the case at Luke
21:24), it means to tread or tread on something, to set foot on or in, to trample under
foot, to trample down; frequently also figuratively to treat contemptuously, to maltreat, to
plunder. (13)
The word pat is found five times in the New Testament. In Revelation 14:20 and
19:15 it is used figuratively of treading the winepress of the wrath of God. The other
three occurrences are at Luke 10:19; 21:24, and Revelation 11:2, in each case with
overtones of judgement and power, for invading armies or the Gentiles trampling over
Jerusalem or the temple, or the Seventy trampling upon serpents and scorpions. (14)
At Luke 21:24 the trampling on Jerusalem by gentiles is often understood as referring
to the period of gentile domination or control of the city, reckoned from its capture and
desolation by the Romans in 70 C.E. Although this understanding of the text is possible,
some expositors, who take pat in this sense, hold that the period of trampling was in
effect already at the time Jesus uttered this prophecy, arguing that the gentile control of
Jerusalem began at the time of Nebuchadnezzars conquest of Judah. After the Neo-

Babylonian period Jerusalem continued to be trampled on by Persians, Greeks and


Romans. The independent Maccabean rule (142 to 63 B.C.E.) is ignored in this reasoning.
It should be noticed, however, that Luke 21:24 uses the future tense: Jerusalem will be
(stai) trampled on by the nations. This seems clearly to indicate that the predicted
trampling was something that would take place in the future. It had not started yet. (15)
Further, if this trampling was something that would take place in the future, it can
hardly be understood as referring merely to the gentiles control of Jerusalem, as such
control (by the Roman empire) existed also at the time the prophecy was uttered.
Evidently in an attempt to get round this difficulty, the Watch Tower Society, on
quoting Luke 21:24 in the November 1, 1986 issue of The Watchtower, inserted within
square brackets the words continue to into the text: Jerusalem will [continue to] be
trampled on by the nations. (Page 6) This parenthetic addition subtly adds a meaning to
the sentence that cannot be derived from its grammatical structure.
The meaning of the transitive use of pat, of course, also depends on the context in
which it is used. In the LXX version of the Old Testament it may sometimes be used
simply of treading a path (Job 28:7-8), in a court (Isaiah 1:12), or on the earth
(Isaiah 42:5). More often, however, it is used in a negative sense. It may be used
figuratively of mistreatment, or treating disparagingly. At Amos 2:7; 4:1, and 5:12, for
example, it is used of the treading down of or oppressing the poor and the just in Israel.
Time and again we find pat (and katapat, trample down) used transitively of
treading down and destroying enemies, their lands and cities, as an expression of Gods
judgements. (Isaiah 5:5; 10:5-6; 25:10; 26:6; Micah 7:10) Repeatedly such destructions
are likened to the treading (pat) of a winepress, in which the enemies are crushed like
grapes. Isaiah 63:3, 6; Lamentations 1:15; Joel 3:13.
Luke 21:20-24 deals with the execution of Gods judgement upon Jerusalem and the
Jewish nation. As stated in verse 22, these are days for meeting out justice, that all things
written may be fulfilled (NW). (16) Verse 23 goes on to speak of great distress in the
land, and wrath upon this people (ASV). (17) The ways in which this divine wrath
would be vented on the people is then explained in verse 24: (1) They would fall by the
sword, (2) they would be led captive into all the nations, and (3) Jerusalem would be
trampled down by the nations, until the times of the nations were fulfilled. (18)
The trampling in our text, then, is closely connected with the execution of the divine
judgement upon Jerusalem and the Jewish nation in the years 67-70 C.E. Evidently for
this reason Thayers Lexicon states that pat at Luke 21:24 (and Revelation 11:2) means
to desecrate the holy city by devastation and outrage. (19)
D-2: The trampling down of Jerusalem on earlier occasions
Very interestingly, pat is also used in the Old Testament (LXX) in connection with the
desecration and/or destruction of Jerusalem and its temple on earlier occasions, namely,
by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.E. and by the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167164 B.C.E.
Some years after the Babylonian conquest of Judah in 587 B.C.E. Jeremiah, in the
book of Lamentations, bewailed the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the
country. At Lamentations 1:15 (LXX) he likened this destruction to the treading of a
wine-press:

The Lord has cut off all my strong men from the midst of me: he has summoned against me
a time for crushing my choice men: The Lord has trodden [eptse, the past tense of pat] a
wine-press for the virgin daughter [= Jerusalem] of Judah: for these things I weep.

It is to be noticed that pat here is used figuratively of the crushing of Jerusalem and
its defenders as in a wine-press. Although Jerusalem was still desolate at the time this
was written, the text does not say that the trampling was still going on. It was a past
event, limited to the period of the siege, capture, and destruction of the city in the period
589-587 B.C. The trampling was over, only its tragic results remained. Clearly, the
Lords treading of Jerusalem and its defenders as in a wine-press, through the
Babylonian armies, refers to the destruction of the city and the killing of its defenders, not
to the subsequent Babylonian control of the area.
Similarly, at Daniel 8:13 the trampling down (LXX has katapat, trample down)
of the holy (place) in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes was limited to a brief period
of time, two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, according to verse 14.
This strange way of stating the time period is explained by its relation to the daily
offering mentioned in the preceding verses (11-13). As this ritual was performed twice a
day, in the evening and in the morning (Numbers 28:3-8), the statement that it was
stopped for 2,300 evenings and mornings evidently has these offering occasions in
view. Commentators, therefore, often interpret the statement as referring to 2,300 offering
occasions, covering 1,150 days.
This would roughly correspond to the period from 167 B.C.E., whenprobably late in
the autumn that yearAntiochus forces desecrated the temple in Jerusalem and removed
the daily offering (compare Daniel 11:31), until the Jews, after having gained control of
Jerusalem, purified the temple and resumed the offering ceremonies there late in 164
B.C.E. Although Jerusalem and Judah had been under the control of Syria since the year
200 B.C.E., Daniel 8:13 limits the trampling of the holy (place) to this brief period
(167-164) of desecration. 1 Maccabees, too, refers to this period as the time of trampling
on the sanctuary by gentiles:
The temple was trampled, as foreigners were in the Akra, lodging place of the gentiles. ...
Your sanctuary has been trampled and profaned, and your priests are in mourning and
affliction. 1 Maccabees 3:45, 51.

This trampling of the temple by gentiles had involved much plundering, destruction,
and killing (1 Macc. 1:29-64), requiring repairs of the damaged temple buildings and the
building of a new altar of burnt offerings (1 Macc. 4:36-60). After the purification of the
temple, the Jews fortified Mount Zion, surrounding it with a high wall and strong towers
to prevent the gentiles [ta thn] from ever coming and trampling [katapatssin] it as
they had done before. 1 Macc. 4:60.
At none of the two occasions discussed above did the trampling extend over a long
period of time. On both occasions it was confined to a brief period of desecration,
plundering and destruction. This use of the word pat in situations similar to that in
Luke 21:24 certainly should have some bearing upon the meaning of the word in that text,
too. (20)

D-3: The trampling on the holy city at Revelation 11:2


A few words should also be said about the trampling on the holy city at Revelation 11:2b,
as there are obvious affinities in language and thought between this passage and the
saying in Luke 21:24b. The first two verses of Revelation 11 read:
(1) I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, Go and measure the temple of
God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. (2) But exclude the outer court; do not
measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42
months. Revelation 11:1-2, NIV.

Like Luke 21:24, this text predicts that the Gentiles ... will trample on the holy city
[Jerusalem], the only difference being that the period of trampling is here specified as
42 months, that is, three and a half years, while at Luke 21:24 the period of trampling is
vaguely referred to as the times of Gentiles.
Do the two texts, then, speak of the same event? Many well-known commentators on
the book of Revelation have drawn this conclusion. Dr. R. H. Charles, for example, states
that the period of 42 months is referred to as the kairo thnn in Luke xxi.24. (21)
Some commentators are even more specific. Dr. John M. Court says:
In 11.2 the trampling of the holy city is said to last forty-two months; as S. Giet pointed
out, this is approximately the period of the Flavian war, from the spring of A.D. 67 to 29
August 70, during which time Jerusalem was profaned, but in the sanctuary the sacrifices
continued uninterrupted, until at the end the sanctuary was destroyed by fire. (22)

Similarly Professor Moses Stuart, the Father of Biblical Science in America, after a
careful examination of the 42 months, concludes:
After all the investigation which I have been able to make I feel compelled to believe that
the writer refers to a literal and definite period, although not so exact that a single day, or
even a few days, of variation from it would interfere with the object he has in view. It is
certain that the invasion of the Romans lasted just about the length of the period named, until
Jerusalem was taken. And although the city was not besieged so long, yet the metropolis in
this case, as in innumerable others in both Testaments, appears to stand for the country of
Judea. (23)

This tying together of the two passages, however, presupposes that the holy city of
Revelation 11:2 is the actual city of Jerusalem, and that the prophecy was given prior to
the destruction of the city in 70 C.E. This evokes a number of questions on which there
are wide disagreement among scholars, such as the date of Revelation, the approach to
the book, the meaning of the measuring in verse one, the identity of the two
witnesses in verses 3-6, and the meaning of their experiences in verses 7-13. (24) It
would take us too far to go into an examination of all these problems here. A few
comments on the 42 months of trampling on the city will have to suffice.
Are these 42 months to be taken more or less literally, as suggested by the scholars
quoted above, or do they symbolize a long period of time, as is held by other interpreters?
Expositors of the so-called historicist school apply the year-day principle to the
42 months, changing them into a period of 1,260 (or 1,290) years. As was shown earlier
in chapter one of this work, this approach has given rise to an astounding series of
expiring dates for the Gentile times throughout the centuries. As the validity of the

year-day principle has been discussed earlier, this approach requires no further
comments here.
A number of commentators spiritualize the number altogether, arguing that the 42
months symbolize the entire Christian era. (25)
However, there are reasons to believe that the 42 months do refer to a brief period of
time. Periods of the same length are mentioned several times in Revelation, namely, in
11:3 (the two witnesses prophesying for 1,260 days), in 12:6, 14 (the woman in
heaven finding a refuge in the wilderness for 1,260 days, or for a time and times and
half a time), and in 13:5 (the wild beast from the sea being given authority for 42
months). Although these periods need not refer exactly to one and the same period
everywhere in Revelation, they are all of the same length, namely, three and a half years.
The period is generally traced back to the book of Daniel. The period of a time, times,
and half a time is mentioned at Daniel 7:25 and 12:7. Further, the seventieth week at
Daniel 9:27 is divided in the middle into two equal parts, which also marks off periods
of three and a half years.
It is well known that in the Bible as well as in other ancient Near Eastern literature the
number seven is commonly used as a symbol of fulness, totality. A period of seven
was regarded as a completed period, whether it was seven days, seven years, or other
periods of seven or multiples of that number. (26) As the period of three and a half
years is a divided seven, it seems to refer to a curtailed or abbreviated period rather
than to a long era. Many Biblical scholars equate the period with the shortened days of
the great tribulation at Matthew 24:22 and Mark 13:20. (27)
On examining the Biblical contexts in which this period of three and a half-years
occurs, it is found that it always refers to a period of severe crisis, either a period of
oppression, persecution, and suffering, or a period of judgement and disaster. This, too,
tells against the idea that the period extends over a long period covering hundreds or
thousands of years. Rather, it seems to refer to a relatively brief, critical period of time.
Revelation 11:1ff. clearly presents a scene of impending judgement, accentuated by the
two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, a symbol of their sombre message. The
Gentiles trampling on the holy city for 42 months is a tangible expression of this
judgement. Whether the measuring is a symbol of the destruction of the literal temple
or of the preservation of the spiritual temple matters little in this regard, because the
scene is still one of judgement and destruction. In view of this, the idea that the 42
months of trampling on the city refer to a long era of Gentile domination seems difficult
to uphold. As in other passages dealing with the trampling down of Jerusalem and the
temple, here, too, the trampling seems best to be understood as a brief period of
desecration, devastation, killing, and destruction.
E. THE TRAMPLING GENTILES
On the assumption that the trampling down of Jerusalem by gentiles refers to the long
period of gentile domination or control of the city, many commentators understand the
plural gentiles or nations as referring to the successive series of nations that would
occupy and control Jerusalem after its destruction in 70 C.E.
It is certainly true that Jerusalem, after the destruction of the city in the year 70 C.E.,
has been controlled by a successive number of non-Jewish nations: Rome (up to 614

C.E.), Persia (up to 628 C.E.), the Byzantine Empire (up to 638 C.E.), the Saracen Empire
(up to 1073 C.E.), the Seljuks (up to 1099), the Christian Crusader Kingdom (up to 1291
C.E., interrupted by brief periods of Egyptian control), Egypt (up to 1517 C.E.), Turkey
(up to 1917 C.E.), Great Britain (up to 1948 C.E.), and Jordan (up to 1967, when Israel
gained control of the old walled city of Jerusalem). (28)
Could this long period of gentile domination be regarded as the times of the
Gentiles? Many expositors do so, or at least they regard it as a part of these Gentile
times. (29)
Even on the assumption that this application is correct, it does not necessarily follow
that the times of the Gentiles ended in 1967. Although the Jews have been in control of
Jerusalem since that year, the most central part of the city, the old temple site, is still in
the hands of the Arabs. The old temple site is still occupied by the Muslim Dome of the
Rock edifice. Therefore, if the trampling down of Jerusalem is to be understood in the
above-mentioned sense, the central and most important part of the city is still being
trampled down by gentiles.
E-1: The gentiles in the Roman armies
However, the plural gentiles used at Luke 21:24 need not be understood as referring to
a successive series of nations. The word gentiles (or nations, NW) may actually be a
reference to the composite military forces under Vespasian and Titus. The vast Roman
empire consisted of many different ethnical groups of peoples, whose native countries
had been conquered by Rome and incorporated into the empire. Most of them had been
turned into Roman provinces.
Very interestingly, at the time of the beginning of the Jewish rebellion in 66 C.E. there
were still a number of kingdoms in the eastern empire that had not been turned into
provinces under Roman governors. They had been allowed to exist as kingdoms governed
by local kings, although as vassals to Rome. The total number of such vassal kingdoms
varied somewhat during the decades preceding the Roman war against the Jews, but at the
outbreak of the war there were about ten of them. Palestine was, in fact, surrounded by a
number of such kingdomsthe Nabataean Kingdom, Chalkis, Arqa (the Lebanon), and
Homs. Most of the others lay in the eastern parts of Asia Minor. (30)
The armies headed by Titus at his final march against Jerusalem not only consisted of
Roman legions, but also of contingents from the allied kings and a considerable body of
auxiliaries from Syria. (Josephus War V, 39-46) The majority of the vassal kingdoms in
the east, in fact, participated on the side of Rome in the war against the Jews. Titus
forces consisted of four Roman legions of 6,000 men each, or 24,000 in all, but the
contingents provided by the neighbouring vassal kingdoms and the auxiliaries from Syria
more than doubled that number to far above 60,000. (31)
Thus, when Luke 21:24 speaks of gentiles in the plural, this is a most appropriate
designation of the composite coalition of armies under Vespasian that invaded Palestine
in the Spring of 67 C.E. to crush the Jewish rebellion, and also of the armies under Titus
that finally besieged, captured and utterly destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in 70 C.E.
The prophetic description of this destruction as a trampling down of the city by
gentiles or nations, then, proved to be a very precise description of what actually
transpired.

This understanding of the plural gentiles is, in fact, confirmed by the Bible itself.
E-2: The gentiles at Daniel 9:26-27
As argued earlier, Jesus, in his prediction of the desolation of the city of Jerusalem and
the temple, first of all had in mind Daniel 9:26-27. This passage, as we saw, not only
speaks of the abomination of desolation referred to by Jesus, but also foretells that the
people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary (verse 26).
As Luke in his version of Jesus prediction was found to be phrasing it in terms and
expressions found in the Old Testament and in doing this often depends on the Greek
LXX version, it is of the greatest interest to observe that the LXX version of Daniel 9:26
says that a kingdom of gentiles (or, of nations, ethnn) will destroy the city and the
sanctuary. (32)
Thus the LXX version of Daniel 9:26 and Luke 21:24 both use the plural gentiles in
referring to the armies that would destroy Jerusalem and its temple. It seems clear that
Lukes choice of the plural noun gentiles is taken directly from the LXX version of
Daniel 9:26. According to the wording of this version, Jerusalem would be destroyed by a
kingdom consisting of many gentiles or nations. The gentiles of the text, of
course, refer to the armies that would destroy Jerusalem and its temple. This, therefore,
seems to be what the gentiles of Luke 21:24 mean also. Speaking of the same event, the
coming destruction of Jerusalem, the two texts seem clearly to be saying the same thing:
A kingdom of gentiles will destroy the city. Daniel 9:26 (LXX).
Jerusalem will be trampled down by gentiles. Luke 21:24.

If this conclusion is correct, the statement at Luke 21:24 cannot mean that Jerusalem
and its temple would be trampled down by a successive series of nations. If the
gentiles or nations are understood as the Roman armies under Titus, they were all
present at the desolation of Jerusalem. All of them took part in the trampling down of
Jerusalem and its temple simultaneously, there and then. (33)
F. THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
Of the three Synoptics, only Luke uses the expression kairo ethnn, times of gentiles.
Most translations render the phrase in the definite form,the times of the gentiles, as if a
definite and well-known period is referred to. In the original text of Luke 21:24, however,
the phrase occurs in the indefinite form, until times of Gentiles are fulfilled. The phrase,
therefore, is vague and imprecise and does not seem to be a reference to a period that the
readers (or listeners) already were supposed to know about. (34) This vagueness has
allowed for a number of different interpretations of the phrase. All of them may be
assigned to one of three groups:
(a) The times of Gentiles as the fullness of Gentiles at Romans 11:25
Some expositors refer to Pauls statement at Romans 11:25 that a partial hardening has
happened to Israel until the fullness of Gentiles has come in (NASB), arguing that the
times of Gentiles are related to this fullness of Gentiles and refer to the period of the
preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.

It is true that both texts have the two words until and Gentiles in common. But
aside from this, there is very little resemblance between the two statements. The contexts
are different, and the subjects treated are different. As Dr. Milton Terry remarks:
The times of the Gentiles (kairo ethnn) are assumed to be the times and opportunities of
grace afforded to the Gentiles under the Gospel. But to understand the words in this sense
would be, as Van Oosterzee observes, to interpolate a thought entirely foreign to the context.
... These kairo are manifestly times of judgement upon Jerusalem, not times of salvation to
the Gentiles. (35)

In the statement, Jerusalem will be trampled down by Gentiles, until the times of
Gentiles are fulfilled, there is no indication that the gentiles in the second clause are
any others but the gentiles just mentioned in the first clause. Further, their trampling
was to continue until the times of Gentiles are fulfilled, implying that the gentiles
trampling and the gentiles times would cease at the same time. The times of
Gentiles, therefore, would logically refer to the times allotted to these gentiles to
trample on Jerusalem.
(b) The times of Gentiles as the period of gentile control of Jerusalem
Probably the most common view is that the times of Gentiles refer to the long period
of gentile domination of Jerusalem, dating either from 70 C.E. or from an earlier point of
time. The various attempts by prophetic expositors to calculate the length of this period
by the aid of the so called year-day principle have already been discussed earlier in this
work and need not be treated again here.
As was argued above, the trampling down of Jerusalem by gentiles seems best to
be understood as referring to the period of the beleaguering, capture, desecration,
plundering and destruction of the city and its temple by the Roman armies. If so, the
times of the Gentiles cannot refer to the long period of gentile control of the city. They
must have ended when the gentilesthe Roman armieshad completed their
trampling downtheir destructionof the city. To make this explicit, we may
substitute the word gentiles in the two clauses for the Roman armies:
Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Roman armies,
until the times of the Roman armies are fulfilled.

Obviously, the times of the Roman armies cannot refer to a period covering
thousands of years. Within the context of Luke 21:20-24, these times may be
understood as the time it took for the Roman armies to conquer and destroy Jerusalem, a
period of about half a year. Or, if these times of the Roman armies are seen as a
reference to the total period required for crushing the Jewish rebellion and recapture
Jerusalem, from the beginning of the war until the final destruction of Jerusalem, that is,
from the arrival of Vespasians armies in Galilee in the spring of 67 until the autumn of
70 C.E., the times of the Gentiles lasted for about three and a half years.
As this view is not as common as the other two and may sound unfamiliar to some of
the readers, a somewhat fuller presentation may be appropriate here.

(c) The times of Gentiles as the period of


the capture and destruction of Jerusalem
As just stated, this view implies that the times of Gentiles is a relatively brief period
that ended with the complete desolation of Jerusalem in the autumn of 70 C.E.
At first glance, the plural noun times, kairo, may seem to tell against this view. How
can a brief period of time be spoken of as a number of times?
Some commentators have pointed out that the use of the plural times simply may
result from the plural gentiles or nations. This explanation is fully possible. But only
on the assumption that the gentiles refer to the successive series of nations that have
controlled Jerusalem, can it be argued that the times of the gentiles or nations must refer
to the successive periods or times during which Jerusalem has been under the sway of
these nations.
As was discussed earlier, however, the plural gentiles seems clearly to be a reference
to the army of gentiles (composed of forces from various peoples and nations) that would
capture and destroy Jerusalem. The times of these gentiles, therefore, would simply be
their times of trampling down the city.
It should also be observed that the plural times are used elsewhere in the Bible of a
brief period of time. One example of this is Nebuchadnezzars seven times at Daniel,
chapter 4, which, as we saw, may refer to a period of just seven months. (36) Another
example is the time and times and half a time, that is, three and a half times, at
Revelation 12:14, which according to verse 6 correspond to 1,260 days (3 1/2 years). The
phrase is usually held to be taken from Daniel 7:25 and 12:7, where the expression most
probably refer to a brief period of suffering and distress. These examples clearly show
that the plural form times at Luke 21:24 is no indication of a long period of time.
The Greek word for times at Luke 21:24, kairo, is rendered appointed times in the
Watch Tower Societys New World Translation. (37) This rendering is in no way
improbable or farfetched. Greek dictionaries emphasize that in New Testament Greek, the
word kairs often denotes time as quality, in contrast to the word chrnos, which usually
denotes time as quantity. Thus while the word chrnos is used of time in the
chronological sense, of the stream of time, a period of time, etc., independent of the
events occurring in it, kairs is stated to be used of time as characterized by its contents.
Accordingly, kairs is said to be used of the fateful or decisive point of time, the
opportune time, the right, proper, favorable time, or the fixed, appointed, or promised
time. (38)
However, there is reason to use some caution in applying this sense of kairs to the
times of the Gentiles, as the stated difference between kairs and chrnos was vastly
overstated by some earlier scholars. In a thorough study published in 1962 a leading
Semitist, Professor James Barr, demonstrates that, although kairs was used in the earlier,
classical Greek in the sense of exact, right, critical, or opportune time, in later Greek it
began to be used also of time or period in the general, chronological sense. Thus,
although the original contrast between the two terms often may be demonstrated in the
LXX and the New Testament, the terms may also be shown to overlap and are often used
synonymously to denote a period or periods of time. (39)
The times of Gentiles at Luke 21:24 is clearly a reference to a period of time. This
indicates that kairs may here be used in the same sense as chrnos. Too much, therefore,
should not be put into the word. James Barr states that, when used in those theologically

important cases which speak of the time or times which God has appointed or
promised, the two words [chrnos and kairs] are most probably of the same meaning.
Of the many examples of this, he also lists Luke 21:24. (40)
Actually, Lukes choice of the plural kairo may have a very simple explanation. As
was shown earlier, the plural noun gentiles in his text is to all appearances taken from
the LXX version of Daniel 9:26-27, the text that above all provided the Scriptural
background of the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. It is no
surprise, therefore, to find that the plural kairo, too, is found in the very same passage.
The way the word kairs is used in this passage may, in fact, explain its use at Luke
21:24, too.
In his discussion of the Septuagint (LXX) background of the language used by Luke at
21:20-24, Professor Charles H. Dodd notes that, although the precise phrase kairo
ethnn, times of Gentiles, does not occur in LXX, the idea is present. (41) He then
quotes the LXX version of Daniel 9:26-27 to show that both words occur there in a
prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, just as at Luke 21:24.
The use of the word thn, gentiles or nations, at Daniel 9:26-27 (LXX) has
already been discussed earlier. The word kairs, time, occurs more than once in the
same text, both in the singular and the plural forms. These occurrences are included in the
following quotations from the passage:
(26) A kingdom of gentiles [or, nations, ethnn]
will destroy the city and the holy (place) ...
and until the completion of time [kairou] war will be fought. ...
(27) and upon completion of times [or, of time periods, kairn] ...
and until the completion of time [kairou] of war ...
and on the temple will be an abomination of desolations
until the completion of time [kairou]
and completion will be given on the desolation.

It is clear from these statements that both the plural and singular forms of kairs are
here used in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. The
prophecy deals with events at and after the end of the seventy weeks mentioned in the
preceding verses. Verses 26 and 27 speak of the completion of a specific period of
time or times, evidently a determined period of time, and of a war that would be
fought until the completion of this period.
It is to be noticed that the word war in verse 26 is in the singular. The text does not
say, until the completion of time wars will be fought, as if a long period characterized
by wars were in view. The war spoken of is that fought by the kingdom of gentiles
that is to destroy the city and the sanctuary. This war would be fought until the
completion of time, that is, until the time determined for the destruction is completed.
The time or times mentioned, therefore, cannot refer to a long period extending over
centuries.
It is of little use to go into a detailed exposition of the LXX version of Daniel 9:26-27,
as there are some textual problems in it. As some clauses are repeated twice, it is
considerably longer that the Hebrew text, and some sentences are differently organized.
The Hebrew text of the passage, like the LXX version, emphasizes the desolating
character and purpose of the war. Dr. Albert Barnes points out that the Hebrew text of

verse 26b literally says, until the end of the war desolations are decreed. (42) In his
careful examination of the text, he gives the following comments on the character of the
war:
The things which would, therefore, be anticipated from this passage would be, (a) that
there would be war. This is implied also in the assurance that the people of a foreign prince
would come and take the city. (b) That this war would be of a desolating character, or that it
would in a remarkable manner extend and spread ruin over the land. All wars are thus
characterized; but it would seem that this would do it in a remarkable manner. (c) That these
desolations would extend through the war, or to its close. There would be no intermission; no
cessation. It is hardly necessary to say that this was, in fact, precisely the character of the war
which the Romans waged with the Jews after the death of the Saviour, and which ended in the
destruction of the city and the temple; the overthrow of the whole Hebrew polity; and the
removal of great numbers of the people to a distant and perpetual captivity. No war, perhaps,
has been in its progress more marked by desolation; in none has the purpose of destruction
been more perseveringly manifested to its very close. (43)

As the desolation of Jerusalem and the sanctuary had been decreed or decided
(NW), the destruction could not be left half-completed. Evidently with this prophecy in
mind, Jesus stated that not a stone upon a stone will be left here and not be thrown
down. (Luke 21:6, NW) The kingdom of gentiles was not to destroy only parts of the
city and the sanctuary. As the prophecy of Daniel shows, a specific time or times had
been allotted them for completing the destruction. This time, or these times,
therefore, seems to be the times of Gentiles referred to at Luke 21:24. This is also the
conclusion of a number of scholars. One of them, Dr. Milton Terry, concludes:
These times of the Gentiles are obviously the period allotted to the Gentiles to tread down
Jerusalem, and those times are fulfilled as soon as the nations shall have accomplished their
work of treading down the holy city. (44)

Summary and conclusion


In this chapter it was first demonstrated that the immediate context of Luke 21:24
strongly demands that the period called times of Gentiles applies to the literal city of
Jerusalem, not to Gods kingdom, as functioning through Davids house.
It was further shown that the explanatory language peculiar to Luke at 21:20-24 is
composed of terms and phrases taken from the Old Testament, and frequently, then, from
the Septuagint version. It is quite possible that these Old Testament expressions were
used by Jesus himself, although they were preserved only by Luke.
The primary background of Jesus prediction, as he himself clearly indicated in his
discourse, is the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and its sanctuary at Daniel
9:26-27. It is no coincidence, therefore, that some of the vocabulary used by Luke reflects
the language of this passage. This relationship is not only limited to Lukes specific
statementnot found in the other Synopticsthat Jerusalem would be surrounded and
desolated by armies (which is directly stated at Daniel 9:26), but the passage also includes
specific terms used by Luke, such as gentiles (thn) and times (kairo). The Lucan
expression times of Gentiles seems clearly to be based on Daniels prophecy.

The subsequent analysis of the Greek word for trample, pat, revealed that this
verb, when used transitively and especially in connection with the trampling down of
enemies, their countries and cities, usually refers, not just to a period of domination and
control, but to a period of desecration, plundering, killing, and destruction. An
examination of passages dealing with the trampling down of Jerusalem and/or its
temple on earlier occasions provided strong support for this conclusion.
Next, the plural word gentiles or nations (thn) used at Luke 21:24 was discussed.
It was shown that the plural form of the verb need not be understood as a reference to the
successive series of nations that have held sway over Jerusalem. The plural gentiles
could very well refer to the composite armies of Vespasian and Titus in 67-70 C.E. This
use of the word in our text was shown to be confirmed by the Bible itself, as the prophecy
at Daniel 9:26 (LXX) uses the very same word in its plural form of the armies that were
to destroy Jerusalem and its temple.
Finally, the various interpretations of the times of the gentiles were examined. It was
shown that the word kairs, time, even in its plural form, may very well refer to a brief
period. As this word is used at Luke 21:24, not of the times of gentiles or nations in
general, but of the times of the gentiles that would destroy Jerusalem, the period can
hardly be extended over centuries or millennia. It seems most logical to conclude that
these times are used of the period allotted to the Roman armies to crush the Jewish
rebellion and desolate Jerusalem.
This understanding was also found to be supported by the LXX version of Daniel 9:2627, which uses the very same word, kairs, both in its singular and plural forms, of the
period that would end with the completion of the gentiles desolation of Jerusalem.
The conclusion of this examination, therefore, is that the times of Gentiles at Luke
21:24 refer to the period allotted to the gentile armies of Vespasian and Titus to execute
Gods judgement upon Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, until they had accomplished the
work of utterly desolating Jerusalem and its temple.

Footnotes:
1 Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1 (Brroklyn, N.Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York,
Inc., 1988), pp. 132-133. RETURN
2 Ibid., p. 132. The plural noun thn means gentiles, peoples, nations, foreigners. The singular form of
the noun, thnos, multitude, nation, foreigner, is also used in the New Testament of the Jews as a people
or nation. See, for example, Luke 7:5 and Acts 10:22. RETURN
3 A typical statement is that of Heinz D. Rossol: Whereas Mark/Matthew speak only symbolically about
the desolating sacrilege in light of the prophecy, Luke can refer to the siege of Jerusalem in literal terms,
since the prophecy has been fulfilled. H. D. Rossol, The Desolating Sacrilege and the Synoptic
Problem, in Martin C. Albl et al (eds.), Directions in New Testament Methods (Marquette University
Press, 1993), p. 17. RETURN
4 See Lars Hartman, Prophecy Interpreted (= Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 1, Lund,
Sweden: CWK Gleerup, 1966), pp. 226-235. For a survey of the discussions of proto-Lucan sources, see

Lloyd Gaston, No Stone on Another. Studies in the Significance of the Fall of Jerusalem in the Synoptic
Gospels (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970), pp. 244-256. RETURN
5 For a discussion along these lines, see David Wenham, The Rediscovery of Jesus Eschatological
Discourse (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), pp. 185-188. Cf. also the comments and references by I. Howard
Marshall in his Commentary on Luke (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1978), p. 771.
RETURN
6 For a detailed examination of the relation between the Olivet Discourse and the book of Daniel, see Lars
Hartman, op.cit. (note 4 above), pp. 145-177. RETURN
7 Charles H. Dodd, The Fall of Jerusalem and the Abomination of Desolation, The Journal of Roman
Studies, Vol. XXXVII (London, 1947), pp. 50, 52. See also Professor Bo Reicke in The Roots of the
Synoptic Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), pp. 137, 175. RETURN
8 See the book of 1 Maccabees (written in the 2nd century B.C.E.), chapter 1, verses 29-64. Dan. 8:11,
which evidently refers to these events, says that His sanctuary place was cast down. The statement does
not necessarily refer to the sanctuary building itself, which was not torn down by Antiochus Epiphanes. The
text speaks of the place (Hebr. makon) of the sanctuary. Dr. John J. Collins points out that makon is used
of the base of the altar at Ezra 3:3 and suggests that here, too, the reference may be to the altar, which was
desecrated by Antiochus. J. J. Collins, Daniel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), p. 334. RETURN
9 It is true that Antiochus IV, in 169 B.C.E., plundered the sanctuary in Jerusalem, taking away all its
furnishings and valuable articles, and even had all the gold peeled off from the front of the building. (1
Macc. 1:20-24) Further, 1 Maccabees goes on to tell that two years later, in 167 B.C.E., Antiochus sent
forces to Jerusalem who plundered the city, set fire to it, and destroyed its buildings and the walls around
it. (1 Macc. 1:31) But this destruction evidently refers only to partial damages done to buildings and the
walls, as neither the sanctuary nor the city were actually destroyed. See the comments on these events by
Professor Jonathan A. Goldstein, I Maccabees. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (=
The Anchor Bible, Vol. 41; New York: Doubleday, 1976), pp. 213-20. A detailed critical examination of
the attempts to apply Dan. 9:26-27 to the times and acts of Antiochus IV may be found in Dr. E. B. Pusey,
Daniel the Prophet (Minneapolis: Klock and Klock Christian Publishers, 1978; reprint of the 1885 edition),
pp. 184-229. RETURN
10 For a discussion of the Pharisaic understanding of this prophecy after 70 C.E., see Robert T. Beckwith,
Daniel 9 and the date of Messiahs Coming in Essene, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Zealot and Early Christian
Computation, Revue de Qumran, Vol. 10, No. 40, Dec. 1981, pp. 531-36. Cf. also A. Strobel in New
Testament Studies, Vol. X (1963-1964), p. 442; also Lloyd Gaston, op. cit. (note 4 above), pp. 458-468.
RETURN
11 Cf. the comments in chapter 5 above, note 22. RETURN
12 Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament, Explanatory and Practical: Daniel, Vol. II (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977; reprint of the 1853 edition), p. 188. RETURN
13 Colin Brown (ed.), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3 (Exeter,
U.K.: The Paternoster Press, Ltd., 1978), p. 943. A transitive verb is a verb that takes an accusative
object. A sentence with a transitive verb may be change into passive form. For example, the clause the boy
kicked the ball may be changed to the ball was kicked by the boy. At Luke 21:24 the passive form of
pat is used. (Compare the active form used in the similar statement at Revelation 11:2.) A verb used
intransitively cannot take an accusative object. RETURN
14 Ibid., p. 944. Cf. the comments by Dr. H. Seeseman in G. Kittel & G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), Vol. V (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1967), pp.
940, 943. RETURN

15 All clauses in Luke 21:24 are in the future tense, indicating that this prophecy refers to something that
entirely belonged to the future: There will be (stai) great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
They will fall (pesontai) by the sword and will be taken as prisoners (aichmaltisthsontai) to all the
nations. Jerusalem will be (stai) trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled
(plrthsin). (NIV)
Although the last verb, plr, here is used in the aorist passive subjunctive tense, plrthsin, the
subjunctive mode in Greek was always closely related to the future tense. The text of Westcott and Hort, on
which the New World Translation is based, even seems to emphasize the future tense by adding kai sontai,
and will be, after plrthsin, in agreement with the Vatican manuscript 1209. However, the addition kai
sontai is not supported by most other early manuscript witnesses and is left out in modern critical editions
of the Greek text. RETURN
16 days for meeting out justice (hmrai ekdikses): As pointed out by Professor C. H. Dodd, the same
phrase is used of the doom of Israel in Hosea 9:7 (LXX) and of the doom of Judah in Jeremiah 46:10 (LXX
= 26:10). C. H. Dodd, op. cit. (note 7 above), p. 51.
all things written: The statement most probably pertains to the things written in the Old Testament about
the judgement of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. Daniel 9:26-27 is certainly in view, but also other texts
in Daniel and elsewhere, such as Daniel 12:1 and 1 Kings 9:6-9. RETURN
17 The great distress (annk megl) corresponds to the great tribulation (thlpsis megl) at
Matthew 24:21, which quotes Daniel 12:1. The phrase wrath upon this people has parallels in the Old
Testament: Psalm 78:21 (LXX = 77:21) speaks of Gods wrath ... upon Israel, and 2 Chron. 24:18 speaks
of Gods wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem. RETURN
18 How completely these predictions were fulfilled is documented in detail by the Jewish historian Flavius
Josephus, who was an eye-witness of these events. He describes the Roman crushing of the Jewish rebellion
as a three and a half-year long nation-wide blood-bath, culminating with the total destruction of Jerusalem
and its temple. From the very beginning of the war great numbers of Jews were killed in the sieges and
battles, or taken captive and sold as slaves. In September, 67 C.E., for example, 36,400 Jews were taken
captive in Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee, 6,000 of which were sent to Corinth to dig on the canal recently
started there by Nero, while the remaining 30,400 were sold as slaves to other parts of the empire.
(Josephus, The Jewish War III, 539-542) According to Josephus, the total number of prisoners taken
throughout the entire war amounted to ninety-seven thousand. Those who perished during the siege and
destruction of Jerusalem alone he estimates to one million one hundred thousand. Josephus The
Jewish War, Book VI, 420. Quoted from the translation of H. St. J. Thackeray in Vol. 210 of the Loeb
Classical Library (Cambridge & London: Harvard University Press, 1928). Modern scholars usually regard
the latter number as grossly exaggerated. RETURN
19 Joseph H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Baker Book House, 1977), p. 494:3961. Similarly, Dr. H. Seesemann, commenting on the use of pat at
Luke 21:24 and Rev. 11:2, says that it has here the sense of destroying, plundering, though one might
go further and render to plunder and desecrate, since plundering the holy city (including the temple) is
necessarily equivalent to its desecration. H. Seeseman in TDNT, Vol. V (see note 14 above), p. 943.
RETURN
20 Dr. Luke Timothy Johnsons translation of Luke 21:24 reflects his awareness of this connection: And
Jerusalem will be ground under the heel of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are completed. In
his comments on this verse, he points out that The verb pat is used for treading grapes in Joel 3:13 and
in Amos 2:7 for trampling the head of the poor into the dust, and in Zech 10:5 for trampling the foe into
the mud of the streets. Likewise, Lam 1:15 has the Lord has trodden us as in a winepress, the virgin
daughter of Judah (that is, Jerusalem). L. T. Johnson, The Gospel of Luke (= Volume 3 in the Sacra
Pagina Series). (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991), pp. 320, 324. RETURN
21 R. H. Charles, The Revelation of St. John, Vol. I (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1920; 1985 impression), p.
280. Dr. Robert H. Mounce similarly states that the 42 months became a conventional symbol for a limited
period of time during which evil would be allowed free rein. In Luke 21:24 it is called the times of the
Gentiles. R. H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans

Publishing Company, 1977), p. 221. See also I. T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John: Studies in
Introduction (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979. Reprint of the 1919 edition), p. 599.
RETURN
22 John M. Court, Myth and History in the Book of Revelation (London: SPCK, 1979), p. 87. RETURN
23 Moses Stuart in A Commentary on the Apocalypse, as quoted by J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia. A
Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lords Second Coming (Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Baker Book House, 1983. Reprint of the 1887 edition.), p. 430. Cf. also the comments of Milton Terry,
Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Academie Books, Zondervan, 1974. Reprint of the 1883
edition), pp. 473-474. RETURN
24 As to the date of Revelation, Dr. Daniel A. deSilva notes: The date of Revelation, and hence of the
nature of the situation that occasioned it, is considerably more widely disputed. Scholars divide fairly even
between placing the work in the Year of the Four Kings, AD 68/69, and near the end of Domitians reign,
AD 94 or 95. D. A. deSilva, The social setting of the Revelation to John: conflicts within, fears
without, The Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 54 (1992), pp. 273-74. For recent defences of the
early date, see John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1976; 5th
impression 1984), pp. 221-253, and the extensive study by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell.
Dating the Book of Revelation (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989).
The picture of measuring is used in the Bible either as a symbol of building (Ez. 40:2-3; Zech. 1:6;
Rev. 21:15-17) or as a symbol of destruction (Amos 7:7-9; 2 Kings 21:13; Isa. 34:11; Lam. 2:7-8). The
majority of commentators, however, feel it is used here in Revelation 11:1 as a symbol of preservation,
because the things measured (the sanctuary etc.) seem to be set in contrast to the trampling on the rest of the
city by the gentiles. In this view, the sanctuary with its rituals symbolizes a kernel of faithful believers in an
apostate system doomed to destruction. Many also see in the measuring a parallel with the sealing at
Revelation 7:1-8.
Scholars who regard the visions of Rev. 11:1-13 as wholly symbolic understand the city as a symbol
either of Rome, Judaism, or of apostate Christendom. Scholars who question these identifications of the
city point to verse 8, where it is identified as the city where also their Lord was crucified. The question
asked is, How can it be said that the Lord was crucified in Rome or in Christendom? RETURN
25 An convenient verse-by-verse presentation of the four major approaches to the book of Revelation is
found in Dr. Steve Gregg, Revelation: Four Views. A Parallel Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Publisher, Inc., 1997.) RETURN
26 See K. H. Rengstorfs discussion of the word hepta, seven, in Kittel/Friedrich, TDNT, Vol. 2 (see
note 14 above), p. 628. RETURN
27 Dr. E. J. Young, for example, states: This period, a time, times and half a time, apparently stands for a
period of testing and judgment which for the sake of Gods people, the elect, will be shortened (cf. Matt.
24:22). E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel. A Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1949), p. 162. See also M. A. Beck, Zeit, Zeiten, und eine halbe Zeit, in Studia
Biblica et Semitica. Festschrift dedicated to Theodoro Christiano Vriezen (Wageningen: H. Veenman &
Zonen N.V., 1966), p. 24. As this shortened period of three and a half years was about the actual length of
the great tribulation upon the Jewish nation (upon the land, Luke 21:23), some scholars conclude that
the 42 months at Rev. 11:2, expressed as three and a half times (kairo) in Daniel, correspond to the
times (kairo) of Gentiles at Luke 21:24. Cf. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Book House, 1988. Reprint of the 1898 ed.), pp. 237-238. RETURN
28 A detailed history of the long period of foreign control of Jerusalem is included in Karen Armstrong,
Jerusalem. One City, Three Faiths (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1996). RETURN
29 An excellent critical overview of the applications of Luke 21:24 and other Biblical prophecies given by
various expositors to Israels conquest of Jerusalem in 1967 and the subsequent events is found in Dwight
Wilson, Armageddon Now! (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991; reprint of the 1977

edition), pp. 188-214. An update since 1977 is included in the Foreword of the 1991 edition, pp. xxv-xlii.
RETURN
30 Eliezer Paltiel, Vassals and Rebels in the Roman Empire. Julio-Claudian Policies in Judaea and the
Kingdoms of the East (= Collection Latomus, Volume 212) (Bruxelles: Latomus, Revue dtude Latines,
1991), pp. 158, 194-200, 321-30. RETURN
31 The forces of Vespasian at the beginning of the war in the Spring of 67 consisted of three Roman
legions and 23 cohorts plus the auxiliary contingents contributed by the vassal kings. Adding up the figures,
Josephus states that the total strength of the forces, cavalry and infantery, including the contingents of the
kings, totalled sixty thousand, other than the servants who followed in vast numbers and may properly be
regarded as combatants, because they shared their military training; they always took part in their masters
maneuvers in peace and in war and they shared their dangers, yielding to none but them in skill and
prowess. Gaalya Cornfeld (General Editor), Benjamin Mazar, and Paul L. Maier, Josephus. The Jewish
War (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), Book III, 64-69. Emphasis added. Cf.
the translators notes on pp. 214, 218.
The forces under the command of Titus in 70 C.E. numbered at least as many men as those under Vespasian
three years earlier. Josephus does not give the total figure, but based on his information in War V, 39-46,
Cornfeld et al estimate the total number to have been about 60,000 legionaries and auxiliaries, plus the
numerous train of followers and freed slaves, an adequate force required for the capture of a large fortified
city like Jerusalem. G. Cornfeld et al, op. cit., p. 321; cf. also Josephus War VII, 17-19. RETURN
32 According to the standard editions of the Septuagint (A. Rahlfs 1935, J. Ziegler 1954). One manuscript,
Papyrus 967, discovered in Egypt in 1931, has a king (basiles) of gentiles instead of a kingdom
(basilea) of gentiles. As this is the earliest extant manuscript of the LXX version of Daniel (dated to the
2nd, or early 3rd century C.E.), it may well preserve the original reading. It is also closer to the Hebrew
text, which speaks of a prince, not of his kingdom. See Angelo Geissen (ed.), Der Septuaginta-Text
des Buches Daniel (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag GmbH, 1968), pp. 38, 39, 42, 214-217. RETURN
33 As noted above (section D-2), 1 Maccabees 4:60, too, uses the plural thn, gentiles or nations, in
referring to the armies of Antiochus Epiphanes. A similar use of the plural nations or gentiles is found
at Zechariah 12:3 and 14:2, which prophesy of future attacks on Jerusalem by all the nations (LXX: pnta
t thn). In both chapters the plural nations or gentiles evidently refers to an army of gentiles that
would attack Jerusalem. These prophecies have been variously interpreted, but it is interesting to notice that
a number of scholars have found their fulfilment in the two most devastating attacks on Jerusalem after the
Babylonian desolation in 587 B.C.E., namely, that of the armies of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167-164
B.C.E. and that of the Roman armies in the war of 67-70 C.E. See, for example, the thorough treatment
of Zechariah 12 in Dr. C. H. H. Wright, Zechariah and His Prophecies, Considered in Relation to Modern
Criticism (London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1879; reprinted by Klock & Klock in 1980), pp. 355-406.
RETURN
34 Compare, for example, the definite form of the abomination of desolation at Matthew 24:15 and Mark
13:14, which was a concept that the Jewish listeners undoubtedly recognized from the book of Daniel.
RETURN
35 Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics (see note 23 above), p. 445. This is also stressed by C. H. Dodd,
op. cit. (note 7 above), p. 52. RETURN
36 See chapter 6 above, section B-4. As pointed out there, the Theodotion version of Daniel uses kairo for
times in chapter 4. RETURN
37 The British & Foreign Bible Societys The Translators New Testament (1973) similarly renders the
phrase as, the appointed times of the Gentiles. RETURN
38 See, for example, the discussions in TDNT (see note 14 above),Vol. III (1965), p. 455; C. Brown, Vol.
III (see note 13 above), pp. 833ff., and in Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament,
2nd ed. (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 395. See also the discussion of

kairs in the Watch Tower Societys Bible dictionary Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1 (1988), p. 132.
RETURN
39 James Barr, Biblical Words for Time (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1962), pp. 20-46. See also the
informative article on kairs by C. H. Pinnock in G. W. Bromiley (ed.), The International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia (ISBE), Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988),
pp. 852-853. RETURN
40 Ibid., p. 42. If the use of kairs at Luke 21:24 means something more than just a period of time, the
emphasis would most probably be on time as an opportunity. The times of Gentiles would then mean their
times of triumph over Jerusalem, the opportunity allotted them to trample down and destroy the city. The
length of this period could very well have been divinely determined or appointed in advance. RETURN
41 C. H. Dodd, op. cit. (note 7 above), p. 52. RETURN
42 Albert Barnes, op. cit., Vol. II (note 12 above), p. 180. RETURN
43 Ibid., pp. 180-181. RETURN
44 Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics (see note 27 above), p. 367. RETURN